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Review: 51 Shades of Maggie at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Our reviewer Karen Wilson is not amused by a stage spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey starring former Emmerdale actress Adele Silva

Actress Adele Silva plays Maggie Muff (in character) in 51 Shades of Maggie
Actress Adele Silva plays Maggie Muff (in character) in 51 Shades of Maggie

Watching this introduced me to a genuinely new experience - walking out of a theatre at the interval.

After 10 seconds I had scrawled ‘I hate it already’ in my notebook. Not a good sign.

The show’s premise was born of a Facebook spoof called 50 Shades of Red, White and Blue by Belfast wannabe writer Leesa Harker, who initially posted snippets to amuse her friends. Within a week it had gone viral.

The Press cottoned on and she turned it into a book and now a play with Emmerdale actress Adele Silva as Maggie Muff (see the hilarious alliteration there?).

I’ve never read Fifty Shades of Grey, but since its tiresome manacled tentacles have permeated pretty much every form of media, it wasn’t necessary to have read EL James’ mummy porn book to ‘get’ the pastiche.

In this version, Mr Big (Christian Grey in the book) is a back-to-work interviewer at the dole office while Maggie is, according to the programme, ‘a feisty female’. Apparently Silva was inspired by Geordie Shore’s Charlotte.

What followed was over-acting, gurning and simulated rudery atop a revolving circular bed as Silva jumped between playing Maggie, her friend Big Sally-Ann, Mr Big and other caricatures. Maggie is a crude, charmless, two dimensional chav who uses her knickers to shoplift, has fake tan mishaps and acts out a farcical toilet sex scene.

It made Mrs Brown’s Boys seem like the height of sophisticated humour.

Far from being a po-faced prude, I’m not averse to a bit of potty-mouthed smut - but only if it’s clever, if the dialogue’s witty, if the swearing’s done with panache or if it’s from the mouth of, say, Malcolm Tucker, Keith Lemon or The Inbetweeners.

But this misfires badly. The ‘humour’ is tired, obvious, depressingly unoriginal and, as it’s a one-woman show, horribly relentless.

Afterwards I hunted the Internet for a bad review, desperately seeking some validation of my viewpoint, but couldn’t find one. The (mostly female) audience were cackling with laughter throughout. Can anybody explain what I’m missing?

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